Hampshire County Council agrees new operating model to secure medium-term future of Basingstoke Canal following reduction in financial contributions

A new operating model for the Basingstoke Canal has been agreed by Hampshire County Council following a fall in contributions from some of the local authorities that line the canal route*. Under the proposal, the Canal Centre and leisure services, such as camping and boat hire, would become the direct responsibility of Surrey County Council from April 2024

Mar 11 2024

The proposed changes to the management arrangements that are currently delivered through the Basingstoke Canal Authority were agreed by Councillor Russell Oppenheimer at his Decision Day on Monday 11 March. The proposal will be reviewed by Surrey County Council’s Leader of the Council, Tim Oliver on 26 March 2024.
Councillor Russell Oppenheimer said: “Basingstoke Canal is a well-loved waterway and recreational landmark which is enjoyed by thousands of people every year. It also plays a vital role in managing flood risks along its route, whilst providing important habitats for many species including birds, fish and insects. It is a fantastic asset that we are committed to protecting for the future. 
“Historically the Basingstoke Canal has received funding contributions not only from Hampshire and Surrey County Councils, but also from the local authorities that run adjacent to the canal. The funding from partners has now reduced leading Hampshire and Surrey County Councils, as the landowners of the canal, to consider a new joint operating model that can safeguard delivery of the core statutory functions of the waterway using the resources available. Under this new approach, the canal would continue to be maintained and operated for navigation by the Basingstoke Canal Authority, to include the licensing of canoeing and boating activities. Visitors to the Canal Centre will notice little change as Surrey County Council – rather than the Basingstoke Canal Authority – would take on the direct management of the Canal Centre operation and its services. There are also many other organisations that would continue to offer licensed boating and other pursuits and again, this would not stop under these plans.

“The changes, if also agreed later this month by Surrey County Council, enable us to balance the budget for the Basingstoke Canal up to 2026/27 at which point the canal’s reserves would be depleted. Following years of reductions in local authority funding, there now needs to be a wider conversation about how we continue to finance the canal in the longer term. The Basingstoke Canal forms part of the national waterways network, and I will be writing to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to set out the challenges we face.”

For more information, view the Decision Day webcast and report.

*Also known as 'riparian' authorities